Wednesday 18 October 2017

Iranian-British woman imprisoned in Tehran 'faces new charges and extended term'

Family handout file photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Family handout file photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

An Iranian-British woman serving a prison sentence in Iran could have her term extended by 16 years under new charges, her husband said.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared in court on Sunday at Tehran's Evin prison, where she is held.

Mr Ratcliffe said she was not allowed to have a lawyer and that the new charges would prevent her from seeking early release next month as allowed by Iranian law.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, was detained by security forces in Iran in 2016.

Later, she was sentenced on security charges.

Iranian media have said Zaghari-Ratcliffe was convicted of plotting the "soft toppling" of Iran's government.

The couple's daughter Gabriella is being cared for in Iran by relatives.

Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

AP

Monique Villa, chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, called Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's treatment at the hands of Iran "harrowing" and said "these ludicrous charges must be dropped immediately".

"This inhumane treatment is breaking up a young family and has already caused irreparable damage to Nazanin's physical and mental health," she said.

"What happened yesterday and the description that the family has given is harrowing. Hearing that Nazanin, who we know to be a very strong woman, almost collapsed in court is another sign of how traumatised she must be now.

"We are all shocked by this new development and ask the Iranian government to put an end to her torture and the British Government to finally intervene to end the ordeal of this British national."

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's local MP, Tulip Siddiq, branded the latest charges " an outrage" and called for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to "formally and unreservedly" demand her release.

She said: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guard have subjected my constituent to illegal arbitrary detention for the best part of 18 months, and the new spurious charges against her underline their callous disregard for her human rights.

"These developments are particularly cruel at a time when her family had increasingly hoped that she would be granted temporary release.

"With the possibility of 16 years being added to her sentence, it is high time the Government intervened with tangible effect.

"There is a clear pattern of Iran treating British dual nationals in this way, and the Government's soft-ball approach to the Iranian authorities seems to be doing little to improve their plight."

Press Association

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